Your Nemesis, The Short Nap

February 23, 2012 |  by  |  0-3 Months, 1 YO, 3-6 Months, 6-9 Months, 9-12 Months, naps
baby naps too short?

A short nap is generally anything between 10-45 minutes. Sometimes short naps sneak in during car trips or while nursing or taking a bottle. Sometimes a temporary sleep regression, ear infection, or ferocious bout of teething will result in short naps. But for some of you, short naps are simply a constant part of life. If so, you’re probably pretty keen to help your baby take longer naps because…

Short Naps Suck

There are many reasons why short naps suck but the big three are:

  • You’ll spend longer putting baby to sleep than your baby actually sleeps.
  • You never get break.
  • Babies who take consistently short naps are generally unhappy babies.

Really, neither you nor your baby is particularly happy about short naps.

The Short Nap Myth

You can’t make your newborn baby nap longer. Some babies will start taking longer naps earlier than others. There is always some Mom in the new baby playgroup that will tell you that their baby takes 3 hour naps all day long because of the magical book they read. Nope. Their baby is taking long naps because she is biologically ready to do so.

Want Long Naps?

Newborn babies will often take itty-bitty cat naps all day long until they consolidate their naps into longer chunkier naps. Nap consolidation can happen anytime between 6 weeks and 6 months. If you are the parent of a baby under 6 months you are probably pretty keen to have your baby consolidate naps. Parenting a cat napper can be exhausting and frustrating.

Sleep consolidation also reflects the maturation of intrinsic bioregulatory processes.

Unfortunately you can’t force a short-napper into taking longer naps. There are internal processes within your baby that need to develop and you can’t make it happen. Generally people refer to this as your baby’s circadian rhythm although it’s actually rather complex and involves multiple parts of the brain. You don’t need to know the specifics although you can impress your friends by dropping this quote (from the NIH article).

Just know that you can’t MAKE it happen and if yours is the last baby on the block taking short crappy naps, it’s not necessarily because you are failing as a parent, you have a bad baby, or because of that one glass of white wine you had when you were pregnant.

Short Naps For All Eternity?

You can, of course, delay nap consolidation by keeping your baby awake too long resulting in them becoming OVERtired. Overtired babies generally take short naps. If your baby is less than 6 months old and you’re doing everything you can to keep your baby from being awake too long, you’re providing lots of age-appropriate soothing, etc. and your baby STILL takes short naps, then it just means she isn’t ready to take longer naps yet. It’ll come.

However if your baby is older than 6 months and still taking short naps then you may have a problem.

  • The #1 reason babies over 6 months are taking short naps is that they’re not falling asleep on their own yet.
  • The #2 most common reason (which is actually related) is that you’re still using pacifiers and/or bottles at bedtime.
  • And #1 & #2 are almost always compounded by…
  • Keeping baby awake too long.
  • Lack of consistency (where they sleep, bedtime/nap routines, etc.).
  • Chronic sleep deprivation (tired babies are generally crappy nappers).

If you’re still rocking/nursing/bouncing them fully to sleep, or putting them to sleep with a pacifier or bottle, I can pretty much guarantee that they’ll take short naps forever. Helping your baby learn to fall asleep without you/bottle/pacifier is NOT EASY. Neither is getting your kid out of diapers, dealing with bullies, or having the condom talk. And yet these are all things you’ll have to do.

Similarly you are no longer the parent of a newborn who could easily sleep whenever and wherever it suited. As the parent of a regulation-sized baby it’s time to get serious about making sure you are home at nap time, using consistent routines when it’s time for sleep, and having your baby sleep in the same place round the clock.

How Long Is a Long Nap?

A long nap is generally around 1-1.5 hours although some lucky moms have been blessed with 3 hour nappers. You can identify these parents because of their healthy glow. And the fact that they’re about to get their first novel published.

So good luck getting your short napper to take long naps. Feel free to share how and when you achieved nap nirvana!

{photo credit: yoshimov}

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  1. Hi ladies, I’m a first-time mommy to an awesome four month old who used to not nap at all and then started “spoiling” us with a few rare 30min naps here and there… Until a few weeks ago…

    I think I may have figured out a MAGIC SOLUTION to longer naps (hmm maybe I can get rich fast) – and its called… swimming lessons!! Since we signed the little man up for swimming (30min lessons twice a week at 8.30am), he started having two 2.5 hr naps and great nights. The important BUT here is that although swimming has improved his napping/sleeping overall, its only really good on swim days and falls back apart the further we get from swim days.

    Anyhow, give it a try if you have a pool nearby and good luck!

    And Alexis – thanks so much for your posts, I found so much great info here. Definitely guilty of a few bad habits you mentioned and will be working on changing things.

  2. Hi Alexis, I am praying you can help me. My son is almost 8 months old, and since about 4 months, we are lucky if he naps for a total of 1 hour each day. he goes to bed on his own, with a nice routine: bottle, bath, stories, crib. some days he cries for 1 minute, some days he cries for 10 or 20. Then he usually wakes up once during the night to eat, and is up around 5-6 am and we feed him again and he usually falls back down asleep until about 7am. He then goes down for first nap about 2 hours after wake up, usually 9 and sleeps about 25-30 minutes. Then another nap around 1130-12, and same thing, sleeps 25-30 minutes, and a third nap around 3pm for 20-30 minutes, and then bedtime is usually 6pm. I don’t know why he cant nap longer since he goes to bed awake at night….
    What else can we do. He doesn’t really have a lovey. he has used a paci off and on, but that never seemed to help so we stopped using it. I am really at my wits end here…Help Please!!
    Dawn recently posted..Pediatrics Study on White Noise: Sounding Off on Sound MachinesMy Profile

    • Did you get it figured out? my daughter was like this too and I thought I’d go crazy. My daughter at night sleeps about 6:30 to 6:30, with one feeding but catnaps all the daytime since she was about 7 weeks old or so (she is now 6.5 months). I might have it figured out by increasing the awake time significantly, even though they are acting tired. She had been getting only 3 30 minute naps when I decided to do this. I saw it on someones blog who had a similar problem.

      • Can you be more specific about how you’ve improved the situation? My baby is 6 months old and has always been a catnapper as well – he typically takes three 25-30 min naps a day…can be quite frustrating. Do you remember what blog you read that helped? What are your baby’s naps like now?

        • See my post below for more details about what I tried. Honestly, I don’t think it was anything specific, at the time I thought that increasing her awake time between naps to 3 hours solved it, because it worked for some lady on a blog. When I first tried it, it worked! But it was difficult to keep her awake that long, so I decreased her awake time down to 2-2.25 hours and she still took a long nap. I think she was just ready for long naps. She used to take 3 20-40 minute naps per day up until about age 6 months. I tried letting her “resettle herself” when she was 4 months, 5 months, but it never worked. I think when she turned 6 months, she became even more active and was eating solid foods, it was just that something just “clicked” and she just started being able to resettle herself after 30 or 40 minutes and go for another sleep cycle, or even more…. I felt just like you, extremely frustrated and worried about her lack of sleep, and I thought she would NEVER take a long nap (she catnapped since about age 7 weeks old or so). I read all the sleep books, nothing worked, she just wasn’t able to do it. Her first “long nap” was 80 minutes and it happened 2 times in the first week at age 6 months. I thought it was a fluke and maybe she was sick. Then it happened again a couple days later, a long morning nap. Then by age 6.5 months, she started taking a daily morning long nap of at least 80 minutes, and two 40 minute catnaps in the afternoon. Now at nearly 7 months old, sometimes she takes two long naps (80+ minutes) and 1 late 30-40 minute catnap, or sometimes she takes a 40 minute catnap in the a.m. and a long afternoon nap. Sometimes (but not always) she wakes up after the 1st 40 minutes and resettles herself after 10 minutes or so of squirming/eye rubbing/yawning/talking. She could never do that before. I hate to say it, but I think you might just have to wait it out a little more and her naps will consolidate. You could try increasing the awake time to 3 hours, and see if it works, but you might wait a little bit longer, maybe 2 weeks or so and see if the naps naturally lengthen. I know how you feel though, it is SO HARD, and my baby fought EVERY SINGLE NAP unless she was nursed to sleep. She still fights napping. Good luck, hang in there, hopefully in the next month things will start to improve.

          • I should add that I put the baby in the crib to sleep while she is awake about 80% of the time and then leave and shut the door (very dark room, white noise). And I have generally been doing that since she was about 4 months old. Sometimes I nurse her to sleep if desperate though or nurse her till she is very drowsy then plop her in bed.

            • Hi there, for an update we still struggle with cat naps with my little one and he is 10 months old today.
              He usually goes down for the night around 7pm and sleeps til 5 or so, and gets a bottle around 5 and then goes back to sleep til 7 or so. I tried stretching the awake time and that didn’t help. whether he goes down for nap 2 hours after he has been up or 3 hours he still only naps about 30 minutes. There are rare occasions that he naps an hour, but that happens maybe once a week. I have just resounded myself to the fact that he is never going to be a good napper.
              We are now using a pacifier on occasion because he is teething (again) and I don’t know if this will come back to haunt us. Any thoughts are welcome!
              Dawn recently posted..7 Days to Chunky Naps and 11 Hour Nights – Reader Q&AMy Profile

            • Just another update on my little catnapper for those struggling with this issue. My baby is now almost 9 months old. We were still getting catnaps here and there and her schedule was non existent. She was down to 3 naps a day, usually one nap was a longer one of 1 hr 20 minutes and the others catnaps. When she was little 6 weeks to about 6.5 months she ALWAYS catnapped 30-40 minutes each. She started finally giving me 1 longer nap around 6.5 months and so we started a 3 nap day (she was on 4-5 catnaps per day, yuck!).

              She started to refuse to take a 3rd late afternoon nap around 8 months old. Her night sleep at that time was from 7pm-5am, nurse, then sleep until 6:30 or 7am, so almost 12 hrs and then the catnaps the rest of the day. Actually, that has been her schedule since she was 6 weeks old. She is able to put herself to sleep, and always does at bedtime, and doesn’t wake much in the night (except when she was little she would wake usually around 2am ish to nurse).

              She recently (around 8.5 months old) started decreasing her night sleep to about 10 or 10.5 hours (I couldn’t get her to nurse back to sleep at 5am any longer) and her nap length increased! I tracked this for the past few weeks and whenever she got 11 or more hours of sleep at night, she would catnap in the day. If she sleeps 9-10.5 hours at night (She sleeps straight through the night that long), she would take two – 1.5 hour naps. I think I was having her in bed too long at night. I read about this in the Ferber book. She seems to do best on 13.5 hours of sleep total per day but she averages about 13 hours total sleep, so she really can’t nap well if she sleeps so long at night.

              Maybe read Ferber’s book and see if any of his tips help you. I had read it awhile ago, but I also read all the other books that say babies need 12 hours of night sleep + 3 hours of naps so I was stuck on trying to get her to sleep long at night. It seemed to backfire on me with the catnapping and Ferber discusses this in his book. My baby both falls asleep on her own and sometimes nurses to sleep, either way seems to work for her, we didn’t have to do sleep training. Sometimes she fusses and cries a little before naps/bedtimes for a few mintutes, but it is because she is tired or is just protesting not playing anymore.

              When she was little (3-6 months old) I spent too much time trying to get her to sleep for naps when she had already slept 12 hours at night and maybe just wasn’t capable of additional daytime sleep as Ferber mentions. She was cranky and seemed a little tired during the day, but would just lay in her crib fussing or playing instead of napping and would ALWAYS catnap at that age.

              Our schedule is a little difficult though because she only sleeps about 10 or 10.5 hours a night and she dropped the late afternoon nap. She she wakes around 5am and naps around 8:15am. Then naps around 1pm or so, so she has long wake times which I don’t really like, but there isn’t much I can do about it. She consistently will not take a late afternoon nap.

              Anyways, I thought I would share an update on this, because I scoured all the websites for info on catnaps and did they ever stop, or how did they stop, etc. Hopefully this might help you a little. Recommend reading Ferber’s book on napping/sleeping. I didn’t need to do the sleep training, but struggled greatly with the catnapping issues and his book is helping me with that issue.

    • Have you tried going in soothing him, then leaving for ten to 15 minutes?
      He will cry. Keep doing it until he gets the message you expect him to take a longer nap!

      • Soothing/patting/picking up putting down never really helped my baby (with the exception of nursing) and that is where I don’t like the Ferber sleep training method. Picking up and putting down was the worst for her. She hated that, it was too stimulating. It makes my baby madder when I go in and delays her going to sleep, because she get so excited anytime I come in the room and seems to think I am coming to play or take her out of her crib.

  3. Hello Alexis! You’ve already helped us figure out how to help our son sleep better before! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. ;)
    Our son, H (11 weeks old), is a great night sleeper. He’s already averaging around 7 hours between nursings. He’s a breeze to put down. 98 percent of the time he doesn’t even cry initially. And during the middle of the night or for dream feeds, he doesn’t fuss at all.
    But he’s a chronic cat napper. You can set a timer on his exactly 30 minute naps. He goes down for naps just as easily as he does for bed time, so I don’t usually have to work hard getting him to sleep then. But it’s been virtually impossible to get him to sleep again after he wakes up from his 30 minutes. He’s a happy kid when he’s not being forced to try to nap. Should I just accept that this is how he’s napping for now?
    We already use swaddling, white noise, darkness, pacis, and a vibrating bouncy seat for his sleeping times. He goes out down to sleep drowsy, but still awake, and then falls asleep by himself. And we’ve tried everything we could think of or researched to try to get him to sleep after the initial 30 and not much has worked. We tried crying it out yesterday and he wouldn’t sleep again and then was not himself (clingy, fussy, and wouldn’t stop crying) for around 30 minutes after that.
    30 minute naps are inconvenient and annoying, but not something I can’t live through if it’s temporary.
    Bekah recently posted..Growing toward ChristlikenessMy Profile

    • This is my story exactly. My son, now 10 months can put himself to sleep at bedtime with no paci or anything else, and has been doing this for 4-5 months but he wont nap longer than 30 minutes no matter what we try. The more we let him cry to try to go back to sleep, the crankier he gets. Its worse if I go in and try to soothe him.
      we tried stretching time between naps, shortening time between naps, we follow same routine every day. Nothing has helped.
      Dawn B recently posted..7 Days to Chunky Naps and 11 Hour Nights – Reader Q&AMy Profile

    • This is us too! Had any luck? My 4 month old is bringing me to breaking point now. The 30 min cat naps were fine but now he is constantly crying if he doesn’t have enough sleep. The only time he sleeps longer is in the car or co-nap (something we have NEVER done EVER but I was so tired yesterday I gave it a go and we slept 1.5hrs so I did it again today and same thing 1.5hr nap). My beautiful boy is noticing happier when he has more sleep but I just don’t know how to teach him to sleep longer independently and defiantly don’t want this co-napping to continue. Any tips?

  4. Hi! My situation with my 2nd baby is pretty much the same as Bekah’s. She’s almost 12 weeks, sleeps brilliantly all night and always goes to sleep on her own. However in the day, unless we’re out in the stroller she sleeps 30 mins at a time. I’ve started putting her to nap in the stroller at home now so I can jump up and rock it to try to get her into the next sleep cycle – with mixed results. Also started using the pacifier much more than I’d planned to, in desperation, so am a bit afraid it’ll turn into a nightmare for us soon. My first child was a short napper for sooooo long I really hoped there would be something I could do about it this time. We don’t have a nap routine. Could this be the problem? I can’t bear the idea of staying in all day and at this stage there’s no clear schedule for her day so it would be impossible to plan anything – plus with a toddler I do have to go out quite a lot. Is a swing the answer?? Or dare I say it, Gina Ford?!

  5. Sorry I meant to say that the reason I’m wondering whether I’m doing something wrong is that this is a relatively new thing. She’s been sleeping 6-10 hours at night since she was 5 weeks, and was having long day sleeps too. The 30 minute sleep is only appearing in the last few weeks and only when stationary! Thanks :-)

  6. My 6 month old daughter has not napped longer than 30-45 minutes at home since she was 2 months old. However, she takes a 1.5 hour morning nap and 2 – 3 hour afternoon nap at daycare. Should we be letting her cry it out at home when she wakes up from naps? Thank you!

    • My son does the same thing! At home we have him nap in the crib and only get 30-45 minute naps. At daycare, he’ll sleep 1.5-2 hours. I asked them what they do and they have him sleep in like a baby rocker and bundle blankets around him. I don’t want to move him out of the crib, so I won’t be following their lead. Any help would be so wonderful! I’m so tired of the cranky little boy I have in the afternoon.

  7. Hi Alexis!

    Thanks you for the fantastic site! I’d love your advice on one thing. My baby (10wks) is a terrible sleeper. His ‘bedtime’ tends to be somewhere between 9pm and 11pm. His first sleep is generally about 2.5 hrs, followed by 1.5. hrs and then a couple 45min-1hr sleeps (ugh!). But my question is about his naps. He takes about three 45min01hr naps throughout the day but then often takes a longer nap of 2.5-3hrs starting at about 5pm. I know they say never wake a sleeping baby, but I worry such a long nap so close to bedtime may have an effect of his very short first sleep after bedtime? Would you recommend we not allow him to nap for so long in the early evening to help him sleep longer at night or are the two likely unrelated?

    Thank you so much for the great resource!
    Emily recently posted..Toby: 8 Week UpdateMy Profile

  8. So my 6.5 month old has been a catnapper since age 8 weeks. She is very alert and active (from birth) and she gives very few clear tired signs. She will go from wide awake playing / talking / wildness in her crib and then simply turn her head to the side and fall asleep (we have a video monitor). She would take 5 40 min naps a day and then we were down to 4 40 minute naps per day and recently, since about age 5.5 or 6 months, she went down to 3 30-40 minute naps per day. She sleeps very well at night, with only 1 waking to feed, sleeping about 11.5 hours at night. She usually woke up from the short naps smiling, but appeared to be tired 45 minutes to 1 hour after waking up, so I thought she was still tired. She usually goes to sleep on her own in her crib (after 10-30 minutes of talking/babbling). She really seems to like having the small “AngelDear” lovey in her crib so she can cuddle and suck on it, etc. She is still in the Baby Merlin sleep suit because she likes to roll over onto her belly and call out for me to roll her back. If it took her longer than 45 minutes to fall asleep, I would intervene and nurse her to sleep. She wasn’t on any regular schedule because I never knew when she would actually fall asleep. I tried all the various awake times over the months (45 minutes to 2.5 hours and more). About 2 weeks ago (at age 6 months exactly, and had been on solid food for about 2 weeks) she took her first nap longer than 40 minutes (1.5 hours! yipeee!). She did this 3 more times over the 2 week period, but there seemed to be no consistency, other then 3 of the 4 times it was for her morning nap. I recently came across a blog where the lady was in a similar situation with the catnaps and tried to increase her daughters awake time to 3 hours at age 4 months. It didn’t work. She tried again at 6 months and it worked and the baby started taking long naps. Well, I thought about it for a week and finally gave it a shot after my daughter was in the crib for 45 minutes not falling asleep (although yawning, etc.). I pulled her out of the crib and kept her up for another hour. Put her back down after being up for 3 hours and she slept 1.5 hours!!!! Her afternoon nap was still short though and she wouldn’t go down for a catnap before bedtime. Now I am on day two. I tried it again, keeping her up almost 3 hours after waking. It was hard, she started getting really tired after 2 hours. So I put her down at about 2 hr 45 minutes, nursing for a few minutes then plopped her in the crib and she fell right asleep and slept for 1.5 hours! I will keep working on this method until I find the right awake time, but I think her awake time was too short for her (many of the books say 1.5 – 2 hrs) as a very active and alert baby. Maybe it is more like 2 hr 45 minutes to 3 hours, even for the first nap, unlike what the books say. Anyways, I thought I’d share this with you.

    • I should add that she only sleeps well in a bed or crib in darkness and white noise machine on. When she was little (under 2 months old) she used to be able to fall asleep sometimes in the car and in a baby carrier like the Ergo, but not anymore. I take her on walks in a stoller and she doesn’t fall asleep, she seems way too interested in everything around her to bother with sleep. Also, if I disturb her during her wind down time in her crib, she gets fired up and excited and it makes it more difficult to fall asleep. When she was very little, like 6 weeks old, we were doing everything rocking/jiggling/bouncing, etc. to get her to fall asleep at bed time, and she was crying. Finally I decided to just set her down in her crib. She immediately stopped crying and then started talking to her self and she fell asleep! I couldn’t believe it. This didn’t work all the time at that age, but starting at about 3 months on, that is what she preferred for bed time and most naps.

      • My baby fusses when he wants me to put him down ;). Some babies are like that!

      • Just an update on this. At nearly 7 months old, she is still taking at least 1 long nap per day but I no longer think it was due to increasing her awake time (although it might have triggered the long naps). I think it was more just developmental, something finally just clicked and she can resettle after the first sleep cycle now. She has been taking long naps in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon too. I decreased her awake time from 3 hrs, to about 2 hrs before the first nap and 2.25 to 3 for the afternoon naps. Good luck, and know that you can try everything, but better just to go with the flow as much as possible and eventually your baby will figure it out, and then you can get on a schedule.

        • Hi Emily, My baby boy is 6.5 months. If he misses one cat nap (out of 4) he’s super tired… Why did you go back on the 3 hour break between naps?

          • Yes, we used to be on 4 catnaps, and then it got bad down to 3 catnaps! She was so tired. She still seemed tired on 4 catnaps too. Then one day, she just started resettling herself, this happened a couple of times per week. Then I tried a 3 hour awake time and she took a long nap 2 times in one day. But it was difficult to keep her up for 3 hours, she seemed tired. So I started throttling back to under 3 hours. Now it is 2 hours before 1st nap, then 2.25-2.5 hours between second and third naps and about 1.5 to 2 hrs awake before bedtime. The 2nd and 3rd naps are often only 40 minutes, but she now always gets one long nap of 1 hr 20 minutes or more. I think it was just a developmental thing, but not sure. She fights almost all naps, except when I nurse her to sleep, or nurse her to where she is almost asleep. I just let her fuss in her crib to sleep.

      • Did the 3 hr sleep method work?

  9. Hi Alexis! I just want to say I love wine, cheese, and Game of Thrones also!
    My boy is 6 months old and I am tackling night weaning right now.

  10. Hello!
    I’ve got a 10-month old baby boy, who has been sleeping through the night pretty solidly from about 7-months. (We had to do some CIO, which was rough, but he took to it pretty well.) However, I am a stay at home mom (I work evenings), and I cannot get baby to take naps in his crib. I have just been co-sleeping for his naps, which is sometimes nice, because I usually need the rest, but other times, it’s a pain. If I try to put him in his crib, drowsy, he throws a fit. Is this just a new CIO hurdle that I need to go through? I think it is tougher for me than it is for his father, who can ‘sometimes’ get him to take naps in his crib. Is doing CIO for naps different than nighttime sleep?
    Thank you!

    • My baby sometimes fusses and cries in her crib but there really is nothing I can do, I think she is crying because she is either very tired, or wants to nurse to sleep, but not because she hates the crib, because she has been taking naps / sleeping at night in her crib since very little. The minute I go in, she just got all excited and smiley that I was there, and then it would take forever for her to settle back down again. In the past, sometimes it took her about 30-45 minutes before she fell asleep in her crib, sometimes she would just squirm around, talk to herself, or fuss (and then she would only sleep for a 40 minute catnap! So frustrating!). I got a video cam because I was going in and checking on her and she was just getting fired up from it. So now I can just leave her be to settle down on her own. She won’t sleep if I am there watching her, she gets too excited. The only time I sleep next to her is if I nurse her to sleep and I want to sleep with her, but then I have to put a pillow in between us so she doesn’t see me (and she squirms a bunch so it is difficult for me to sleep with her). I think you might just have to let your baby fuss it out. I was lucky that my baby didn’t cry much, only fuss and whine for awhile, but she has cried on occasion, but that usually means she is extremely tired, and she is usually out of it after a few minutes (up to 15).

  11. Hi Alexis and mums!

    Well, my gorgeous 10 months old little girl and I are Staring into the abyss of CIO. One night down, 2 to go. First night she cried for 55 minutes, then it all went quiet. I tiptoed to her room to find her on her haunches, clinging onto the crib side fast asleep. Right there my heart tore from my chest and I dissolved into a right sobbing mess. I felt like I just deserved the worst parent in the world sash. How could this little angel understand that mummy still loves her and did not abandon her… the dark dark night. All I could think about was her crying for someone to give comfort,but no one came…;( I know it’s for her own good’ but the guilt is horrendous to swallow.

    We will persevere as much as we can. We decided to go cold turkey on the paci, luckily she also has a lovey. We’ve changed up bedtime routine, I stopped nursing her to sleep, we read a book before bed and put down AWAKE , however yawning, ear tugging and nose rubbing. If I fed her closer to bed time she would have been fast asleep, only to wake up between 01:00-02:00 demanding to co-sleep. Her last feed at night is at 18:45-19:00, followed by a 5a.m feed (breastfeeding)

    From reading plenty of sleep guides, it seems the key to sleeping through the night is having good naps? However, a baby won’t nap well if they aren’t sleeping through the night? my Lon naps 30-40 minutes – maybe -twice a day and that is only if I nurse her to sleep or previously gave a paci. She will sleep close to 2 hours if she co-sleeps which I often do with her in the morning as I try catch up on lost night time sleep.

    As I am now not feeding to sleep at night and doing the CIO maneuver – how do I manage naps? Do I also let her CIO, do I not feed to sleep? Do I not co-sleep? They really do need to be more structured but I have no clue how to do so.

    Alexis, you are such a hoot. When the wheels fall off and I need a little pep talk, reading your blog always makes me feel that it’s a mountain I CAN climb, and that it’s important to take a deep breath of the fresh air up there and admire the view before trudging on. Perspective is key!

    Thanks to all the mums who post their experiences, you too give me strength, as I see a little piece of my baby girl in each of your stories, and it makes me feel a little less lonely and ever hopeful!


  12. Okay I’ve been reading this blog since my now almost 7 month old baby girl was 3 months. I love it. But, I’ve never commented or asked for help. I am now! I feel it’s my duty. :-)

    My little nugget is a pretty good night sleeper in her crib. She sleeps through the night or close to it, and has since about four months. Every so often she still has one night waking — but if she does wake, we can still usually count on 7pm-3am or 4am; after a 3-4 oz feeding, she easily goes back down until 6am or 630am (and on the days the sleep angels are with us, 7am. I love those days.) I do consider us lucky. She has a lovey, a white noise machine, and sometimes a quick paci is needed when we put her down – but most of the time, no paci at all.

    Here’s the thing – while she rarely if ever puts up a fight to fall asleep in her crib at night, she NEVER naps in her crib. She will only ever nap in her car seat. She can go for 2 hours or more at times, stationary in her car seat, in her room. She does not need motion. But with the crib, getting her to nap is like some sort of sweet torture. She can be exhausted, 2 or more hours after awake time in the morning, rubbing her eyes, yawning, even closing her eyes. I then put her in the crib and she is instantly AWAKE. Laughing, smiling, squealing. For 45+ minutes. I have tried check ins and shush pats. She just smiles her endearing “I know you think I’m cute” smile and starts to fuss if I leave. I’ve tried no check ins, but after 40 minutes of her half-partying/half-fussing I usually intervene. Sometimes she’s so tired she starts crying at the 20 minute mark, but still won’t fall asleep.

    When I can’t take it anymore I put her in the car seat next to the crib, and bam – asleep with her lovey and sometimes a paci/sometimes no paci within two minutes.

    I’m back at work, so I can’t work on changing this behavior all day long, but I do have a nanny with 15+ years of experience and even she has had little if any success with getting baby girl to nap in the crib. If she does succeed, it is after 45 to 50 minutes of not leaving her side, and the nap is maybe 30 minutes.

    Any thoughts, help, similar situations? I might add she is also getting too big for her car seat! We probably have one more month before we need to switch to the next level up … Grrr.

    • She’s got a HUGE car seat = sleep association so when you put her in the crib she’s thinking it’s playtime.

      This trips up tons of people – different parts of the brain manage day vs. night sleep so crib=sleep at NIGHT but she doesn’t understand that during the DAY. So, there you are.

      I would definitely put the car seat IN the crib as a transition. When you’re ready to be done full on then you’re done with the car seat. It may be a bit of a rocky transition for a while with short naps while she figures out that crib=sleep for NAPPING. At that point consistency is key so when you make the move you MAKE IT. No dabbling or trying it here and there. If you’re trying to get her to understand she naps in the crib then she naps in the crib 100% of the time.

      Will she take short naps forever? No. But it’ll take a while. Anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Be mindful that you aren’t creating bad habits by hanging out with her when she naps. You may want to consider that for a day or two while you transition but then you work towards not hanging around while she falls asleep.

      It’ll happen. It seems impossible, but I promise it will!
      Alexis recently posted..Pediatrics Study on White Noise: Sounding Off on Sound MachinesMy Profile

  13. So my husband and I have worked super hard at CIO and have been very successful…at nighttime. We are well into our third week of trying CIO at naptime, as we have a consistent 30 minute napper, but we’ve seen nothing in terms of improvements. She goes to bed at night, totally awake, and falls asleep on her own with little or no crying. She’s a disaster at nap time. I’ve tried putting her down well before she becomes overtired, reducing her awake time, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. She screams herself to sleep (usually about 20-30 min of crying) and sleeps for exactly 30. On the rare occasion that she falls asleep well, she’s still up after 30. We leave her to fall back asleep- sometimes for as long as an hour, but she will not. I’m beyond frustrated, as my child is exhausted, I’m exhausted, and our victorious nighttime seems useless, as this short nap leaves my baby exhausted and miserable throughout the day. Help!!

    • And just like that, after 2-3 weeks, the kid is napping. It’s not completely consistent yet, but she’s almost always falling back asleep after she starts stirring at the 30 min mark and will usually have two hour-hour and a half naps, in her crib, every day. So, there is hope after all!

      • Meg – I know this was a while ago, but could you perhaps tell me how old your daughter was when she went through this? I felt like you took the words right out of my mouth. My daughter is 14 weeks old and has turned into the disaster napper.

      • I too would love to know more details about what you did that helped your little one nap longer in the crib, hope you have the time to reply!

  14. Suzannah Green

    I’ve totally followed all the steps with the swing during the day and she still won’t be asleep after 30-40 minutes of swinging, after which time she gets grumpy and red faced and upset.

    I need help I don’t know what to do any more, I end up having to swing her myself in my arms to get her to nap, however at night she will settle and soothe herself to sleep no problem at all. During the day she won’t soothe herself to nap and when I do get her to sleep its short naps.

    She’s 4 months old, I’ve gone wrong somewhere and wonder if it’s too late to correct?

    • Step #1 – rock her to sleep in your arms.
      Step #2 – sneak her into the swing for the remainder of the nap
      Step #3 – once you’ve been successful for the “sneak and swing” for a few days (or when you’re feeling sassy and confident) retry having her fall asleep in the swing. Also don’t forget the possibility of turning the motor off and jiggling/swinging the swing manually. This can be a really helpful technique for babies who are struggling to fall asleep.

      It’d DEFINITELY not too late to correct. This is the perfect time to work with it! Good luck :)
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..7 Days to Chunky Naps and 11 Hour Nights – Reader Q&A My Profile

  15. Hi Alexis! You’ve helped me in the past with my now 2 yr old and now I need advice about my 8 week old! My son’s naps are actually getting shorter and shorter. They used to be long, 1.5-2 hour naps, but now that he is becoming more aware of the world, his naps have gone down to 1hr, then 45 min, and now 35min. Does this mean that he was just in that newborn fog those first few weeks and that he is in actuality a catnapper for now? I’m only so desperate for a solution because my poor 2 yr old is bored out of her mind because I spend my whole day nursing the baby and putting him to sleep. And since his naps are so short, our feed-play-sleep cycles are like 2 hours t best! He isn’t even really hungry that often but that’s how often I feed him, otherwise he might end up hungry during the NEXT nap. Know what I mean? He also used to fall asleep on his own in his crib for naps, but now is wanting to be held until he’s asleep. And if he’s now asleep “enough”, he’ll wake after 3-4 minutes and start crying, and we start the process again. If I go in and hold him after the first 35-45min when he wakes he will immediately fall back asleep. So I hold him for awhile and put him back down, where he will sleep another 30-90 minutes! But I don’t have that luxury all day, I only do that during my 2yr old’s nap. So am I destined for short naps until he gets whole consolidation thing figured out? He will sleep longer in an Ergo, but that is frequently not an option, and he doesn’t fall asleep in a swing even on the highest speed… Thoughts?!?

    Btw, my 2yr old is the night waker that drove you to your text books to find a solution… She wakes for hours during the night and just lays alone quietly. Remember that?? You had said that the only thing u could find was restless leg syndrome. We ruled that out, along with dairy intolerance, and we tried longer naps, shorter naps, later bedtime, earlier bedtime, and the list goes on. Moral of the story, she still wakes, and we’ve found no solution, 9 months after discovering the problem… Oh well, I’ve got bigger (or, smaller!) newborn problems now…!!!

  16. My little girl is 2 1/2 months old. For the past few weeks she was consistently taking two 2 1/2-4 hour naps every day in her swing. She sleeps in four hour stretches at night. This week she’s started regressing and is only sleeping for a half hour at a time in her swing. Every little noise wakes her even if we have white noise going. The terrifying part is that I go back to work next week and she’ll be starting daycare. I’m worried that she won’t nap well at daycare and will be a grumpy mess by the time I pick her up in the afternoon. Help!

    • I forgot to add that she starts to fuss if she’s awake and is left in the swing, bouncer, pack n play alone. I can tell she’s exhausted but will not contently swing by herself anymore.

  17. I’m wondering if anyone else has a problem with another culprit to blame for short naps: WIND! I have a 10 week old and it’s the bane of my existence. She often wakes herself up about 30 minutes into a nap because she either has a burp or a fart or both. Often I’m treated to a whole little symphony played solely by the wind section. This always seems to happen about 2 hours after she was fed. I’ve tried feeding her closer to the nap to try and get more sleeping in before the trumping starts but this usually doesn’t help and in fact then she just burps AND spits up. She’s a tummy sleeper (I know, I know – bad mummy, but she won’t sleep on her back) and sleeps in her cot unless we are out. I think this probably exacerbates the whole burping thing, not to mention resulting in lots of burp stains on sheets. Often she’s really upset at getting woken up and then I get treated to a lot of screaming as she tries to get back to sleep. Weirdly she never has this problem at night. Has anyone else had this problem and did it just sort itself out in time?

  18. Awesome site! This gave me the confidence to start sleep training my 7 month old TWINS.

    My story:
    my boy was a disaster at bedtime, nap time, you name it. He would fight, screaming and thrashing every single time. Both babies were waking multiple times a night (I’m talking 4 or 5 times…each!) and Hunter required a ridiculous combo of eating, walking, rocking, jiggling, and singing for at least 30 minutes just to go back to sleep. My husband works 8 pm to 5 am, so I am alone at night.(oh and I have a 2 Yr old who somehow always ends up in my bed). It was getting to the point where I was in danger of hurting myself or a baby while zombie walking through the halls all night, desperately trying to get the damn kids to sleep!

    The first few days of CIO were a little rough. We went with the Ferber method, but it just made the twins freak out even worse when we went in to check on them. So after a few days we stopped that, and just like magic, my babies became sleep trained! Hunter has done a complete 180: when I put him down for bed, he doesn’t even cry, just turns on his side and goes right to sleep. Sansa cries for just a few minutes before settling down. They both wake only twice now (currently night weaning) and it’s amazing. But we are struggling with Sansa’s nap times.

    My questions:

    How long should I let a baby cry before abandoning nap time? How long should I wait to put her down again?

    If a baby wakes up mid-nap due to some outside cause (a screaming toddler in the room next door), should I go in to offer comfort, or should I let them CIO again?

    Any tips for twins napping? Sansa gets very mad at nap time and while Hunter will still fall asleep while she screams, he will wake up and scream too later in the nap.


    • Hey Jenna,

      So glad you’ve gotten things on a good path at bedtime :) Naps, however, are a tricky wicket. So I can’t just throw out a quick pointer and make everything better. Sadly.

      If possible, it sounds like the twins would do better napping in separate rooms. Also you want to use loud white noise and keep the room DARK to block out as many external distractions as possible (screaming toddlers and such). If they wake up mid-nap give them some time to re-settle but if it’s not happening, it’s not.

      Some days are like that :)

      Ideally by 7 months you have them napping on some sort of a schedule so they’re going down at the same time every day (this is a change from when they were younger and naps floated about more). This will help they’re bodies be ready to sleep at those fixed times and hopefully break you out of the “do we abandon nap time” thing because it’ll be more regular.

      Anyway twins are HAAAARD but you’re over the hump. Good luck with everything!
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..7 Sleep Lessons from a Stanford Pediatric Sleep SpecialistMy Profile

  19. Hi hi! And help please! We read and followed your sleep training night edition like it was gold… And it was, it totally worked! Our daughter took 3 nights to put herself to sleep with no crying and sleep 10 hours straight… And she has been since! So we waited a week or two to make sure that really established and tried to do nap training. Holy smokes. Utter fail!! She just cries straight through the hour and never falls asleep!! Ever! All day long!! Now I have a psychotic baby who hasn’t napped in 3 days. What the heck do we do? We have black out curtains a sound machine and do a shortened version of our night routine before naps. She’s turning into a clingy mess all the rest of the day when she is awake and I can’t help but wonder if this is actually good for my little girl. Please help, I’m about at my wits end and I’m not confident I’m doing this well so it’s hard to stay committed to it. She just turned one last weekend. Thanks Alexis, we need you!

  20. So grateful for all the helpful info on this website! I am at my wit’s end with the 30 minute naps. I know your advice is that under 6 months they may not be ready. My son is 5 months. He is so obviously tired through out the day. He wakes up yawning. After 1 hour he is fussy. It is making it impossible to break the nurse = sleep association because no matter when or where I nurse him, he starts to fall asleep. I have tried EVERYTHING to make him nap better, but nothing helps. I have followed all the advice and still he will only sleep 30 minutes. Sometimes in order to get him to sleep at all I resort to a pacifier but I worry that the pacifier will become a problem. I spend all day trying to get him to nap. I am trapped to the house with my 3 year old. I am exhausted and just want him to be a happy baby. Really hoping it will magically improve in a month but I am doubtful.

  21. How do I get my 2 month old to nap longer? For the past two weeks she wakes up after 25-30 min. We darkened her room, play white noise, swaddle her rock her to sleep and put her in her swing. We don’t know what else to do! She sleeps well at night under those same conditions….

    • Oh and she would sleep longer if I didn’t put her down but I don’t have it in me to be rocking in my arms her all day…

  22. Hello do you have any advice on extending 1.5 hour naps to 2-2.5 hour naps? I have a 14 month old who usuallt takes two 1.5 hour naps a day but recently with first molars coming through and nearing age of transition to one nap having trouble getting to sleep and fitting both in so sleepy enough by bedtime which is around 7.30pm. Looking at sleep charts looks like she’ll need 2 hours or more of daytime sleep if only napping once a day but this doesn’t often happen. I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this.

  23. My LO is 7 months and sleep between 10-11 hours at night from anywhere between 7-8pm and 6am. She has her milk in the nursery and then read a story and then settled herself to sleep.

    I follow a similar routine after lunch to try and get her to sleep but I cannot get her to sooty herself to nap yet she will do it at night? HELP I’m tearing my hair out as during the day I have an overtime stubborn baby so will not go it to sleep in her cot like she will at night.

  24. Hello all –

    I am wondering if someone has some thoughts re my 2nd daughter’s sleep behavior.

    A bit of context:
    We have a 2 1/2 year old daughter, great sleeper, 7p – 7a and 2-3 hour nap over lunch. Sleep training was easy and at 9 month she slept 12 hours + 2 long naps (about 2 hours each).

    2nd daughter is now 8 1/2 months. She sleeps fairly consistent from 6p – 5a (and then goes back until 6.20a after a feeding) BUT is TERRIBLE with naps. Usually we get about 30-40min and she is tired. We have tried about anything: lying her down every hour, having a consistent sleep schedule incl. soothing her, leaving her to cry until she has been in a dark room for at least an hour (she usually goes back to sleep after a few minutes of crying). We have a consistent routine, consistent dark place with white noise, quiet environment. I just CANNOT figure it out. HELP?!
    She is currently in a developmental growth spurt, standing, crawling but she has never been a great sleeper so I don’t think I can take the excuse of sleep regression here.


  25. My 4 month old will nap for 2+ hours if held but if I put him down to nap in his crib, I’m lucky to get 20 min. At night, he sleeps in his crib from 7-7 with one feeding. How do I lengthen his daytime sleep in his crib? I have a 3 year old so I cannot whole my baby for every nap.

  26. Hi, I’m wondering if anyone has any advice for me on getting longer naps. I feel like I’m doing everything right but it’s just not working and I am beginning to get sooo frustrated. I followed the CIO method for bed time and it worked great, my 9 month old will only fuss for a few minutes at bedtime and then sleep pretty much through the night… But NAPS… UGH. I try to get her down for 2 a day. But every time she cries for 20-30 mins and then will only sleep 20-30 mins. She does not seem well rested afterwards. It makes me feel super guilty. Usually at the end of the day she crashes either in the car or ergo baby and sleeps for a good 2 hours as long as it’s not in the car. We follow the same routine as at bedtime too. I just can’t think of anything else to do. Any advice out there?

  27. My son is 11 months old and still takes cat naps. He has been sleeping through the night for about three months but was still falling asleep while nursing before bedtime and being rocked to sleep for naps. In hopes to lengthen naps we decided to get him to fall asleep completely on his own for both naps and and bedtime. We’re on day 6 and the good news is he now generally cries for 2-5 min and then puts himself to sleep. Also, he is sleeping later in the morning. He was sleeping from 8pm-6:30am but now he wakes up between 7am-8am!

    Day 1 his first nap was 1 hour 5 minutes and then second WS’s 1 hour 20 minutes. I thought “wow, already it’s working!” But since then most naps have been 25 minutes – 50 minutes. On day 4 I started letting him cry when he woke up hoping he would go back to sleep. He will cry off and on and sometimes lay down like he is going to fall back asleep but then is back crying a minute later. I let him cry for 20 minutes after his 25 minute nap today but he never went back to sleep.

    It seems like overall his naps are worse now then they were before! (Before he would often sleep 45-50 minutes but sometimes an hour and 20 minutes.)

    He was doing 3 naps up until about a month ago when he really stopped falling asleep for that third late afternoon nap. Now he just does 2 (short) naps but seems to be fine with his wake time between the naps and bedtime.

    So what do I do? Will it just take more time? Should I let cry after the nap? Will he ever actually go back to sleep? Does he just not need very much nap time in the day?

    Any advice would help! Thank you!!

  28. Hi all,

    I have a 4 and half month old boy, we have a few issues and are wondering if you have any advice on how to tackle them?

    1. He hasn’t slept through the night, ever. He goes down to bed (after a good and est. bedtime routine) at 7:30, he wakes a few times and fusses, but won’t settle and has a dream feed at 10, then 1-2 (side feeding in bed), then 4:30 he wakes to eat/ he needs to poop.

    2. He only poops once a day and it’s noemally at 5ish everyday. This makes it hard to put him down after, as he needs our help to poop. So lights on, change nappy etc. He really can’t poop himself and needs our help to do so.

    3. He does sleep in his crib. Which we are thankful for, with white noise blaring out of the alarm clock. In a magic sleep suit (like a padded oneise).

    4. He is a cronical cat napper, he only sleeps for 30 mins during the day. And he gets grumpy and tiered after an hour and a half of being up. So on a normal day I’m running through 6 cycles a day of awakr,eat,play.

    I’m so exhausted (arnt we all?) and feel like I’ve really no clue where to even start. Every website I go on and visit all say they have a bad napper but he sleeps through the night, or that they have good naps but wake during the night. I have neither! he crys when we put him down for a nap, he crys when he wakes, he crys at night, for bed time and Wakes continually,4-6 times a night…
    How do I start establishing a longer nap time and sleep through the night?
    Ps. We tried the no cry technique and the happiest baby on the block, but we’ve noticed that he gets excited when he sees us and it over stimulates him for us to pick him up,etc.
    Any advice, thoughts, wisdom – please, would be so welcomed!!!

  29. Ok….so naps seem to be contributing to the overall sleep (or lack thereof) issues. She is finally going to bed at night ok (if routine is followed to a T and she is showing tired signs at bedtime)…and only getting up 1-2 times at 6 months old…BUT dispite sleeping 12 hours at night she is the most cranky child when she stays up too long in the day, but I don’t know how to fix it. She will not nap for more then 30 minutes, and I have tried putting her down before showing tired signs, when showing tired signs, 1.5 hours after last nap, 2 or 3 hours after last nap, in the carseat, in the crib, if she doesn’t feel like napping she won’t and it just gets worse and worse as the day goes on. Can usually get a 30 minute nap out of her 1.5 hours after she gets up in the morning, but the next one…(as I type) is impossible! She sometimes will fall asleep…or other days (like today) will scream for an hour until I eventually get her up because we need to go somewhere or do something or I am not sure how long to leave her for naps. Any advice/magic numbers of how long to try for a nap before giving up and waiting for the next one to try again? Its hard to have consistent nap times/or bedtime time when she may or may not be overtired from not napping all day!

  30. hi guys!

    i have a 6 weeks old and is an extremely crappy napper. it takes about half an hour more or less to put him to sleep then he’ll sleep for about 15 – 30 mins. 1hr at most which is rare. there are also times when it just doesn’t happen. he won’t fall asleep which makes him even more overtired. unfortunately for me, it’s also the same way at night. which is why i can only get some rest for like 2hrs a day (skipping 1 feeding and giving him to my mom.)

    he could sleep well during his first 2 weeks. then he had an allergy, which is now treated (no more rashes and all day fussiness) but it’s still hard for him to sleep even with swaddle, white noise (doesn’t seem to make any difference with or without), pacifier (he doesn’t like it that much), and rocking in my arms.

    i’m getting a swing and hopefully it will help. i’m getting so stressed out, pls let me hear some advise! i want to sleep so bad (i used to sleep forlike 8-12hrs before i had the baby)

  31. Hi, my 6.5 month old was napping really well, 1.5 hrs in the morning, 2 hrs early afternoon until a few weeks ago when he has become a serial 30 minute napper. He has always had to have a wind-down cry before naps but never at night and continues to do this. He sleeps really well at night, 6.30pm-6am with a 10.30 dream feed. However he now wakes completely at naps after 30 minutes and cannot resettle. He is not a baby suited to pick up/put down or anything involving my presence as this stimulates him too much and he ends up screaming so definitely no nap then! It is driving me insane as he is so overtired by the end of the day. I’ve tried lengthening his up times, shortening them, read sooo many books. What am I doing wrong??

  32. Anne-Sophie Savard

    Hi Alexis!

    I read all 3 parts of What You Need To Know About Sleeping Through The Night. Though my baby sleeps through the night, she still has a problem with naps during the day. At night she sleeps in her crib and falls back to sleep by herself. However, she needs to be fed to sleep. BUT my main problem is daytime sleep.

    My baby was diagnosed with intern GORD at 3 weeks old. She always needed to sit straight. It was the only way she could sleep, for maximum 45 minutes. She cried a lot and I basically sat on the couch with her non stop for the first 3 months. When her condition got better, she wouldn’t want to lay down to sleep, because laying down = more reflux for her. So I began to give her her bottle in a bouncy seat. The angle was perfect for her. Her routine, from 3.5 months old up to now, has been to put her in the bouncy seat, with a soft blanket and give her the bottle. This set up was and still is the only way I can get her to sleep at home.

    Her GORD is much better now, she has been constipated for a few months now but it’s the only thing that could annoy her right now. Otherwise, she’s perfectly healthy. She is now 8 months old. She sleeps a lot in her car seat. After 5-10 minutes on the road, she falls asleep. In the car, she can sleep up to 1.5 hours. At home, with her routine that I (unfortunately have to) do, she sleeps anywhere between 10 to 45 minutes, and exceptionally 1 hour when she’s really tired. When she sleeps in her bouncy seat, I can’t do anything in the house. I can’t move her seat or she wakes up. I can’t do the dishes, even opening a drawer wakes her up. I also have to mention that sometimes, she falls asleep with the bottle and after 20 minutes, we can take the bottle and she remains asleep. But usually, she needs to have her bottle to stay asleep. And if she drinks the whole bottle, the nap is finished. She won’t fall back to sleep.

    I’ve tried a few times to let her CIO in her crib, but she has a very strong and tenacious character. She can cry up to 3 hours straight. I’ve never try to let her cry longer because it was too much for me. I’ve also tried to gradually let her cry, picking her up and putting her back in her crib, and lengthening the time before I pick her up, but she got even more mad with that method…

    She’s 8 months old and she never took normal naps. From birth up to now. It isn’t that bad for me, especially now that her GORD doesn’t hurt her anymore, but sometimes she gets fussy and so tired there’s nothing that can get her to sleep. Even the car ride. If someone could help me, it would be really appreciated!

    Anne Sophie

  33. Hello, your site has been so helpful with learning about my baby’s sleep habits and expectations. I have a question though. My daughter is almost 5 months old and has been a chronic cat napper. I’ve been very consistent with trying to extend her naps for her benefit. So far, it we’ve made SOME progress. Here is something I’ve noticed though: her first morning nap seems to be the shortest. She normally wakes up after 45 min (used to be 30) and CAN NOT get back to sleep. If I do get her back to sleep, it’s usually a 25 minute battle and she only sleeps for an additional 15 minutes usually. Isn’t the morning nap supposed to be the longest one? Why is it the shortest? I normally put her down 1.5 hours after being awake (2 hours for other naps). Do I need to extend this time? She seems tired though…

  34. Hello Alexis,

    My little one is almost 11 months (in two days) and she still only cat naps! She sleeps through the night fairly well with a pretty strict night time routine, but during the day she is a disaster. She sleeps really well in the car or if she’s on my lap during the day, but when I put her in her crib the longest nap she takes is MAYBE 20 min long. I usually let her cry for 30 min. then check on her and let her cry for another 30 min. Most of the time after about 45 min she will take a nap for 10-20 min long. She takes about 3 of these during the day, but at this point it’s driving me nuts! For her naps I feed her, then wake her up and put her in the crib with a white sound machine. She no longer uses a paci. Anyways I feel like by this point she should be taking longer naps. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  35. Wonder if anyone can tell me why my 8 month old daughter who can self settle, sometimes sleeps for 1.5hrs in a morning but more often than not only sleeps for 30 mins? I’ve tried leaving her for 10 mins in the hope she’ll go back to sleep but she never does. I’m sure she’s still tired after these short naps because she cries, whereas if she’s slept longer she usually chats to herself!
    I’m a ftm so this is all new to me and I kinda stress out a bit when she wakes really early from a nap because I don’t then know how to fit in her food and milk!

  36. Hi Alexis!

    First off, thank you for having a website that is both informative and hysterical. I love that you give advice and make me laugh when I most need it.

    I read everything that you said about nighttime sleep, and my son is now sleeping through the night and falling asleep completely on his own. The trouble is naps. He is 14 months old, and refuses to go down awake at nap time. I often nurse him to sleep, put him in his crib. He will sleep for about 30 minutes, then he won’t sleep again unless someone holds him. He will then sleep for another 60-90 minutes. This needs to stop as I’m pregnant and won’t have time to hold him for an hour twice a day once the new baby comes.

    Also, I work and he sleeps differently for different people. When my mother in law watches him, she holds him for naps and he sleeps fine. When our nanny comes, he gets rocked to sleep and put in his crib. He will sleep 1-2 hours for each nap with the nanny.

    Whenever I try putting him down awake during the day, he will cry for over an hour. At night, he goes down awake without a fuss.

    I’m so confused! How long should I let him cry? Is he just not tired and needs to transition to only 1 nap?? Please advise!!!


  37. I am so glad I found this site!

    We are currently trying to sleep train our 6 month old (we fell into the nursing to sleep trap) and at nights, it’s going ok. He’s now going down awake on his own with relatively minimal fussing (lately it’s been 5 min or less) and waking 2-3 times to nurse (an improvement over 4-6!).

    My issue, like many others who’ve posted, is naptime. He will not go down awake, and any time I can get him down (whether I nurse him to sleep and lay him down, nurse him to sleep and hold him, or put him down awake and let him cry until he falls asleep), he only sleeps for 20-30 minutes. At his 6 month appointment, the doctor told me it probably won’t get better and that some babies just don’t nap…. But that can’t be right, can it? Babies need their sleep! Help!

  38. My question is how to wean my 13 week old off of napping in a moby-style wrap? She will sleep in her crib or swing for 20-40 minutes (I don’t think this is enough for her) but will sleep in the wrap up to 2 hours. This was convenient as a newborn but is getting less so and soon I will go back to work. Part of the problem is a noisy/exciting 3 year old sister. Any hints to transitioning to a long nap in crib?

    • I’d keep working with that swing. Add a swaddle–it’s tight like the wrap. If space is limited and toddlers are noisy, have her sleep in a closet, bathroom, etc–seriously. Add white noise. I have been space limited and had my very young baby sleep in the pack and play in the bathroom with the bathroom fan on–away from other noisy children, dark, cool, white noise.

  39. Hi Alexis,
    I’ve come across several blogs and have really loved your posts and responses to comments! We have an amazing 9 1/2 month baby girl who has been a pretty good sleeper through the night and we started sleep training (Weissbluth method) and about 1 week later we are down to 5-10 min of fussing and then to sleep. She goes down about 7 pm and for the last 5 days or so has been waking up at 4:45. I would nurse her but she refused to go back to sleep. This morning she woke up at 4:40 I didn’t get her right away and she actually fell back asleep until about 6:10!
    Now onto the cat naps which we are in need of some advice…
    We are fortunate enough to have both grandmothers watch her on alternate days during the week and we realized she did not have a good daytime routine. We created a schedule for everyone to be consistent with her and we also started sleep training 4 days ago (also Weissbluth method) in efforts to prolong these naps and she has cried anywhere from 5-30 min and then falls asleep, but is STILL waking up at the 30 min mark and actually wakes up angry, screaming and still yawning/exhausted! Our current “schedule” for the day looks like this: 6:15 wake-up and nurse; 7:45 breakfast; 8:45 nap (30 min); 10:30 bottle (breast milk); 12:00 lunch; 12:30/1 nap (30 min); 2:00 bottle (breast milk); 3:30 snack; 5:30 dinner; 6:30 nurse; 6:45 bedtime routine; 7 bed. We’ve made sure to eliminate all sleep associations (milk AFTER naps), no more pacifier, now no more rocking and we’ve made the room dark with white noise and give her a lovey in her crib (all sleep and naps happening in the crib). She even will start yawning and rubbing her eyes after about 1.5 hrs after waking in the morning and napping earlier doesn’t help and we’ve also tried prolonging her awake time for 3 hours but still only gives us 30 mins. Hoping you can point out something we are missing!!
    Esther recently posted..Your Nemesis, The Short NapMy Profile

  40. I have a 5.5 month old. A little over 3 weeks ago we decided to get him to transition to sleeping in his crib at night and not me. He has always been good at setting his own nap schedule and sleeping through the night. Then 4 months hit and his sleeping problems began or should I say nursing to fall asleep. I also couldn’t have him sleep on me anymore. We ended up starting the CIO method at night but was modified that during night wakings we would bounce or nurse him back to sleep. Needles to say we had to cut that out and after one night of CIO he sleeps through the night. I also decided to move him to the crib because I noticed his 1-1.5 hr naps were becoming shorter and not restful. He was waking more and not able to go back to sleep without assistance. I thought if I got him to sleep through the night he could do naps. Well we started the CIO for naps and he is falling asleep on his own but only sleeping for 20 min. At first I had to wait till he was really tired to put him down. If I put him down when he was showing signs of tiredness he would cry past the 30 min. I think what is happening is he is moving into the next sleep cycle and can’t put him self back to sleep. I have tried having him cry it out and it didn’t work. I have also tried to nurse or bounce him to get calm enough to fall asleep again. NO luck. At this point I have no idea what to do to get him to take his nice naps again. He wakes up fussy and unhappy and is ready to go back to sleep again after an hour. I haven’t found any more information on the CIO method concerning naps. I worry that this can affect his development. Also he is not sleeping longer at night to catch up either. Any help would be amazing. It’s so hard to figure this out being a first time mom you feel so helpless and hopeless.
    Regina recently posted..When Your Kid Won’t Stay in BedMy Profile

    • My son sometimes wakes after 30 minutes during his naps and I just leave him. He will give it a good cry sometimes, but I know from experience that if I pick him up and allow him to stay awake he is very cranky and needs to sleep shortly thereafter.

  41. Help! My baby is 11 months old and a terrible napper. He has never been a great napper but I used to get 2 on most days. Now he either plays in his crib(walking around and talking) or screams for the entire first nap. Then he only sleeps 45 mins at the second nap and wakes up screaming! I know 45 minutes is not enough daytime sleep. We have down cry it out so he goes to bed on his own in his crib every night and When he does fall asleep during the day. He usually wakes up once at 5 and goes back to sleep until 730. Then I put him down around 9 or 930 and again at 1 or 130 depending on if he slept or not. I tried just doing one nap thinking maybe he was trying to give up the morning but he still acts so tired in the morning and then only sleeps for 45 minutes. We do the same routine every time too, sound machine dark room books etc. he goes to bed at 7 also.

    I’ll take any advice you’ve got! I’m going crazy! Thanks!

  42. Mommy is losing steam… or her resolve… or maybe just her marbles. My DD is 8 months and was a decent napper and then all of a sudden wasn’t. I thought that maybe she was already going through the 3 to 2 nap transition (the third one had been a pass-out-on-the-boob affair anyway) so I tried a million different things, and all the things you are “supposed” to do, from this blog and others, and finally when she got down to only taking two 30 minute naps a day…

    I am now into day 8 of sleep training for night and naps at the same time (because nights were never really the problem and what I had been doing to get her down for naps just totally stopped working and even if it did, she was up in 30/40 minutes anyway). Now she is putting herself to sleep and sleeping AWESOME at night (she only fussed/shouted for 20 minutes the first night), and she is able to put herself to sleep initially at naptime, but she still just cannot go back to sleep after the first sleep cycle no matter what, it seems. I have let her cry for up to an hour after waking up from the first 30 minutes and I basically just feel horrible now and like I should just resign myself to the fact that she’s not going to sleep any more than 30 minutes two times a day. It’s SO not enough sleep for her, she is cranky and freaking out by the end of the day every day, but I think I am doing/have done everything I can! I feel like I should give up with the harsh CIO/nap training so that she will at least not be so stressed out… but also feel like a total failure if I give up now! Should I keep on toughing it out??? Is 8 days not long enough to any progress with longer naps??? I feel like I am starting to break… Anyone have any helpful advice or success stories to see me through???

  43. Help! My daughter was a terrible sleeper, but we’ve ironed out most issues besides naps. We used the swing to get her to fall asleep on her own, and now she’s in her crib with no major issues at night. She’s my third and I thought I would have this sleep thing down by now… She’s 6 months and refuses to nap, and has for about 2 months now. She fights them with everything she has, and is so overtired and desperate for sleep some days, but just won’t give in. The only way she’ll nap, starting a couple weeks ago, is falling asleep in the car. (Previously that didn’t work, either.)

    I have no problem trying Ferber for naps, at this point. It worked like a charm with my other two, but like I said, she’s my third, so when she cries for over a half hour and I end the attempted nap session, it’s not usually long before we have to be in the car for one thing or another, usually bringing my son to school, so that’s no negotiable. She inevitably falls asleep because she’s super exhausted by that point. The kicker is that she’ll sleep sometimes for 2.5 hours that way, so nap consolidation isn’t even an issue. She’d probably be my best napper if she’d just fall asleep! Haha She’s in the infant carseat now, so I can bring her in the house if she falls asleep, but the expiration date on that is up this month and quite frankly, some weekends we have no where to be, so I can’t rely on the carseat trick for ever.

    I’ve tried the swing, white noise, etc. and the kid is so stubborn she just won’t give in. I’m coming around to accepting she just won’t nap until she’s older but I know that’s not what she needs. There’s very little advice from Ferber and other sleep sources on napping situations like this, that I’ve been able to find anyway. So Alexis, or anyone who’s had success in a similar situation… please, help!!

  44. This post on short crappy naps saves my sanity. My now 5 month old, wouldn’t nap longer than 30-45 min uobuntil this past week. Didn’t matter where he was:swing, crib, my arms, 45 min woukd hit and he’d be awake crying. We could sometimes sooth him back to sleep, but mostly it was fruitless.

    After reading your sleep series and this post we gave up trying to lengthen his naps and focused on training him to be put down awake at bedtime. At 4 months old we started setting a solid sleep routine, with nap time being a shortened version of the routine. It seemed to make no difference at the time, but we persisted. At 4-1/2 months we started night time CIO with checks at increasing intervals, but eased into it by starting with a drowsy baby, then progressively more awake as things went on. Not gonna lie CIO sucked, bigtime, but after ~7 days, he was falling aeeo on his iwn with inly a little fussing and he woke less at night (went from 4-5 wakes to 2-3). We put him down at 6:30 (because he was a short crappy napper) and he’d usually only wake 2 times. Sometimes a third was in there. We would feed him everytine he woke. After 2 solid weeks of this routine, if he woke before 4 hours had passed, we wouldn’t offer a bottle. It took 2 nights and that extra waking disappeared.

    Then 4 days ago, like magic, his short crappy naps consolidated. He started napping for 60 min, then 90, and even eeked out a 2 hr nap yesterday (I wont let him bap longer than 2hrs). We changed nothing about his daytime routine, it just happened. Now we are paying more attention to the waking hours, and enjoying the breaks. I finally started exercising again. :-).
    Now at night, he only wakes once to eat. The second feeding (well the first actually) dissapeared on its own. He now wakes up only at 2:00 am. (Bedtime is 8:30-9ish because he is taking a 4th nap).

    So, all this to say: THANK YOU for helping me not feel crazy and like a terrible parent because my son wouldn’t nap, and for focusing our efforts on a fruitful goal of putting down awake.

  45. I have an 11 month old and he has yet to take a nap longer than 45 min. (except for twice when he was sick and that was about 1.5 hrs each time) ELEVEN.months. Maybe because his first birthday is weeks away and i’m so sick of our little 45-minute-three-times-a-day schedule, I am asking, begging for help. I’m pretty sure that over the past year i’ve read every post and I’ve applied everything I’ve learned. He gets a bottle before naps and bedtime but never falls asleep on them. He has talked/moaned himself to sleep since 3months. He goes to bed at 7-7:30. He still wakes up once in the early morning hours (usually 3am) but after some crying will go back to sleep until 6-6:30. I’ve tried to wait it out and just hoped that he’d grow out of it. BUT. He hasn’t yet and i’m losing hope. I’ve also taken away the third nap recently but the other naps didn’t get longer and then he was going for 5 hours of awake time before bed. Can anyone help me???

  46. Ok so here it is my baby is 6 months old and wont sleep more than 10-45 minutes at a time naps and night time… he was able to sooth himself to sleep ( well for about a month )and now nothing im up every 10-45 minutes let just say im falling apart and my house to … nothing gets done because i get no sleep … he is down 45 minutes and up hour to hour n half all night long …. i have read anything and everything i can find i have talked to his doctor and all he has to say is its normal im sorry there is nothing normal About this lol

    Help me plz

  47. I have a 3-1/2 month old who chronically cat-napped and was cranky for the vast majority of the day. Finally we decided to just put him in his crib for naps while he was a awake, we left the room very dark with a noisemaker/projector going, and did so on a very clear schedule.

    Surprisingly, when we shut the door he was quiet! he will fuss and sometimes cry after about 10 minutes, but he religiously puts himself to sleep. We were so hesitant about upsetting him before, that we weren’t even giving him the opportunity to figure it out (soothe) himself.

    We also have a religious bedtime routine of bottle, bath, massage, and two books starting at 6:30 pm. He loves it, and he becomes excited over certain parts of his routine. He sleeps a solid 8 – 9 hours before he needs a feeding, then we return him to his crib to put himself back to sleep then he will wake up at 6:00 – 7:00 for the day.

    Overall he seems really happy on days where we can follow his routine, and on other days when life events interrupt he tends to be fussier. We can tell he’s enjoying the quiet time in his room. He was giving us signals that he wanted to self soothe, and that he was tired but we simply weren’t giving him the opportunity.

  48. Also, once we place him in his crib to sleep, that is IT, we commit. We do not go in to pat him, pick him up, rock or feed him. We have a baby monitor that allows us to speak to him through the base in his room and we use this feature very sparingly and only when he’s really upset to keep it effective. Seems harsh but he’s SO MUCH happier now that he’s getting sleep. When he is happier during his waking hours it strengthens our bond with him and lets us get in some really great play time.

  49. Hi Alexis, I really hope you or some of your readers can help me. My 3 month old is a really light (crappy) sleeper. He completely wakes up every sleep cycle (30-45 mins) with squirming, grunting and crying. During the day I go to try and settle him back to sleep (with white noise, paci, patting) so that he gets longer naps. Sometime it works, sometime it doesn’t. That’s fine for me. The dreaded part is at night. He wakes up every 45 mins and it’s really difficult to get him back to sleep. Also, sleeping in 20 min streches has turned me into a zombie. I don’t know when to set his bedtime (if I let him, he’ll do a long evening nap or 2 hrs) and I don’t even know when to feed him at night (as I try not to feed him whenever he wakes up). I really need some help to figure him out. Thanks in advance!

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